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Allohistorical Victorian Spacepunk

Makemakean

Rootless Rōnin
#2
I'm going to need a little bit more information as to what exactly it is you have in mind, because this is a very, very broad question.

Are we looking at a Look to the West-like story where the development of history from 1751 to 1901 is the plot?

Do you just want a rough sketch for a backdrop for a story with Victorian Spacepunk?
 

Venocara

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#3
I'm going to need a little bit more information as to what exactly it is you have in mind, because this is a very, very broad question.

Are we looking at a Look to the West-like story where the development of history from 1751 to 1901 is the plot?

Do you just want a rough sketch for a backdrop for a story with Victorian Spacepunk?
I'm thinking the former.
 

Venocara

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#5
And the whole getting a man on the moon is going to be central to the story then, or just something that is happening in the periphery?
I think it would be central to the story. There would be a logical and plausible layout of events until the event happened, at which the main part of the story begins.
 

Makemakean

Rootless Rōnin
#6
I think it would be central to the story. There would be a logical and plausible layout of events until the event happened, at which the main part of the story begins.
Okay. So what kind of a world is this? What is their level of technology? What kind of stuff can you find in it, for instance?
 

Venocara

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#7
Okay. So what kind of a world is this? What is their level of technology? What kind of stuff can you find in it, for instance?
I'm not sure... I wouldn't want to do the thing where space travel is suddenly possible due to the discovery of a fictional chemical element or because aliens came down and taught us how to do it, because they've already been done very capably before. I guess modern technology with a Victorian feel.
 

Makemakean

Rootless Rōnin
#8
I'm not sure... I wouldn't want to do the thing where space travel is suddenly possible due to the discovery of a fictional chemical element or because aliens came down and taught us how to do it, because they've already been done very capably before. I guess modern technology with a Victorian feel.
Okay, so, what is your basic idea for how these Victorian astronauts get to the moon? Rocketry, or...?
 

Makemakean

Rootless Rōnin
#10
I would assume rocketry.
Okay!

Good!

I would suggest then that you begin by looking into rocketry a little. Have a look at how it developed. Sure, you can have a look at the big names and all that, but I am strongly of the opinion that the beauty of world-building when it comes to science fiction is the ideas and concepts and how they developed. What made people think that rocketry was the way to go? After all, Jules Verne in his From the Earth to the Moon had in mind that a massive cannon would be the way to go about it.

How did rocketry develop as a scientific discipline? Is the reason why rocketry has developed to the extent that it has developed in your timeline because we are looking at a particularly much more hawkish timeline, with never-ending wars? Has there perhaps been a long-going cold war throughout the 19th century between a British Empire and a continuing Napoleonic Empire and by the year 1901, the world is divided into one British sphere of influence and a French sphere of influence?

How does one go about building rockets in the first place anyway? What are the fuels, the designs, those things? You often learn things and hit upon ideas that you otherwise never would have hit upon when you start looking into the details and the nitty-gritty.

Why is there an interest in space exploration in particular? Why not deep sea exploration being the craze that captures the imaginations of the people of this alternate Victorian era? After all, why have a race to the moon when instead you can have a race to the bottom of the ocean? Governments building increasingly fanciful submarines à la Captain Nemo, and setting up bases on the ocean floor?

Perhaps it has to do with military intelligence? Is there in particular an interest in satellites as a means of communication? Why aren't deep sea cables good enough? Perhaps this has nothing to do with the military at all. Perhaps this is cyberpunk-steampunk? The great big multinationals being the ones directing all the exploration and controlling everything, but in a 19th century setting? Perhaps the race is not between rivalling superpowers or blocs of great powers, but between cartels of multinationals?

How has electricity developed in this timeline? Are there computers or something similar to them? Difference engines? How do they work? Why were they developed?

These are just some ideas from off the top of my head, and the sort of questions you should be looking into.
 
#11
Two early uses of semi-rocketry, in the form of projectiles using inflammable liquid for military purposes, may be useful to you. The exact technology of how they were constructed and who did the experiments has been lost, but in a fictional timeline some inquisitive person with the right interests and linguistic capabilities might be capable of ferreting out the relevant scientific documents that had 'miraculously suyrvived unnoticed in a remote monastic library'.
1. The Byzantines somehow invented a war-galley-based 'flamethrower' in the 670s, probably a tube mounted on the bows of a ship with some form of chemical reaction used to squirt inflammable naptha (or a petroleum derivative?) across the sea to burn an enemy ship. In this era, all ships were of wood so it was horribly effective. Traditionally, but based on later sources which some say are unreliable, an engineer called Callimachus invented it when a huge Moslem fleet from Syria/ Lebanon sailed up the Aegean to blockade Constantinople in 674-8 with a land-army arriving across Anatolia to join them. The Byzantine empire looked like falling with its capital, but the 'miracle weapon' enabled the Byzantines to destroy the larger enemy fleet; the Moslem army was left stranded and had to retreat. The Byzantines then used this 'Greek Fire' for their navy for centuries; its secret was evidently preserved by their naval HQ and might have been written down and in fiction found hidden in a remote Greek monastery by a C18th or C19th rich traveller with scientific knowledge and a student of Greek. This could 'jump-start' reviving artillery and rockets on a larger scale, ahead of the OTl experiments by the Revolutionary French army.


2. The Mongols apparently used Chinese'rockets', small-scale, to fire projectiles at their foes in battle in the early-mid C13th and terrify them, and also to set cities on fire; though my knowledge of this is hazier. Ideally some written instructions could have turned up in a Buddhist monastery, hidden there after the Mongol 'Yuan' dynasty of China had to flee to the steppes in 1368.
 

Venocara

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#12
According to Wikipedia, Leonardo da Vinci invented something similar to the Katyusha rocket launcher in his day, by which I think it means his Architronito machine, which was effectively a steam-powered cannon. Those have apparently been about since Archimedes invented one during the Roman Siege of Syracuse in 213-212BC. However, I do not know how one would go about converting this kind of thing into a recognisable rocket.
 
#13
What would be necessary to have (at the least) a man on the moon by 1901 with a POD no earlier than 1751?
Unfortunately, I really do fear that you might need either Alien Space Bats, contact with more advanced extraterrestrial life, or--alternatively--a moving back of the calendar (so, for instance, the year 2001 becomes 1901) in order for this to actually work. The best that you could probably get by 1901 would be a movie of a man going to the moon. Indeed, this movie about this topic was made just a year after 1901--so, having it be made a year earlier shouldn't be too difficult:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Trip_to_the_Moon



Maybe such a movie could fool a drunk person in 1901 into believing that mankind has already visited the Moon? ;)